Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?

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Mr. Big

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Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« on: 23 Oct 2021, 03:52 pm »
I've been seeing a lot of the same questions or concerns on the new Spatial speakers and I've thought I chime in on why that might be perceived at 1st based on my experience with many different speakers over the years and styles of speakers from a box, panels to electrostatic and Unidirectional speakers. Efficiency from 84Db to 94Db. What is a constant is the more efficient a speaker is the more open and dynamic that speakers will sound and it will be perceived as bright at 1st because the lower efficiency speakers will always sound a little more laid back and relaxed, as are Maggie's and Electrostatics, the more dynamics a speaker can put out the more open and upfront and present they will sound. I loved my Quads and Maggie's once set up right and the room acoustics took care of. Dynaudio Confidence 5's were in the mid-'80s only at best in efficiency with a big amp they could come to life, smaller amps more of a pleasant laid back sound, with highs sounding rolled off. Put a high current amp on them it became night and day speakers, with highs open, clean, and present with bass that could really impact the recording. They sounded more aggressive than when they were on the smaller amp if you A/B them, but that would be misleading because after you adjust to having the dynamics and openness, you started to hear recording sound more real, microdynamics where the soft is soft but the swing to louder is really where the sound becomes more real and alive. Kiplish speakers can be 100dB TO 105dB efficiency, people hear them and our put back because they never heard such dynamics, the speed, and bite of horn, electric guitars, etc. Recordings come alive due to the increased dynamics and efficiency.  You also can hear the same perception of a preamp that is is more open, fast, lower noise, PRAT, and more dynamics.

Spatial Audio speakers are very highly efficient and super dynamic and due to the design being open baffle and very open, dynamic,, and also lighting fast, this will take some adjustment coming from your past speakers, and could well seem more forward and bright if you're coming from speakers that are panels, less efficient, many Box speakers where music does not open up and breathe, and Electrostatics that have limited dynamic range and a rolled top end, even though what they do right is unreal good and natural in the best way. Quad lovers never leave Quads or they return and for good reason they are natural-sounding and due to lack of in-your-face sound and dynamics, they make music soo enjoyable. Yet I and others who have tried the Spatials are very happy with them, that says a whole lot. I treated the Spatial like my Quad speakers because they are open baffle there is some sound coming from the back of them though nowhere like an Electrostatic that has as much sound coming out the back as the front, so I already had a step up in-room treatment and experience with such a speaker. 

A more very efficient, dynamic speaker, and open sounding speaker may sound bright at 1st, but it is because you hear a more live presentation, where the recordings come to life, huge swings in dynamics and open and extended highs, with a bottom end if on the recording can really make an impact, and the bottom-end really supports the highs as well as the midrange, you need a good bottom end to bring out the midrange and the highs, it is how our hearing and brain perceives and processes sound.

The other improvement due to high efficiency and low distortion is you playback music at a high SPL level and don't realize it, thus when say horns go off they are over loud and will sound bright. I've done this, and I was surprised how much I turned the volume down and the music was still real-sounding but now in balance, as Peter Walker once said "every recording as a certain loudness level where it sounds its best then after that you lose the sound quality. The designer at Legacy speakers told me once use the human voice, listen to when people speak to you, did they sound loud, sharp, overly detailed or relaxed and laid back, which is how the human voice does sound. Turn the volume up till the image comes to life and the sound is natural and in the room. The worst case of what not to do is going to audio shows and many speakers designers blasted their music at such a high volume it makes for a horrible listening experience. Louder is not better, and Spatial's put out easy SPL with very little watts, so watch your volume level for natural sound. Your room plays a huge role so treat it with care, the sound bouncing around your room, off TV's, windows, etc. you can bet the sound will be bright. Your room is important so treat it. The walls in front of each side and the wall behind you need treatment no matter the speakers. Any speaker can sound bright in a room that enhances the top end, room bounce, and reflected walls and windows.

Now can the Spatial sound be bright? sure they can like any good speaker can, my Quads could sound like crap, dull or lacking bass, or bright and super clean with no body to the music, all it took was lack of care in setup, learning how the speaker reacted to the placement and adding any style of spike under them. learning where they sounded good and then when I would start to lose it, how much toeing which also impacted the dynamics big time but once "learned" how they reacted in your room and where they sounded good and bad, they were easy to set up and play with, 1/4" toeing in our out could change their sound and balance and once you locked them in and that is when you knew you had them at their sonic best. So if a person came by to listen to them and they were not set up right their opinion of the speaker would not have been positive, this is for any speaker by the way.

My power cords changes are so easy to hear their impact good and bad. I just added one AQ Dragon ( was jaw-dropping good) on my amp and the speakers went to another level of performance with increased microdynamics, even better bass, and lower noise floor which equals more little details. I should say I use Hurricanes and Firebird power cords on the front end gear and PS Audio P-12 Regenerator that I use for my front end gear. My system is simple. Marantz SA-10 SACD/DAC, Mark Levinson 326S preamp, McIntosh MC 402 amp, AQ Firebird interconnects and speaker cables.

Now I've heard speakers set up right and they sound analytical and bright, with lots of detail, tight bottom, and just not my cup of tea, nor how real music sounds, but the guy enjoyed them and that is all that mattered. Many stores sell speakers like this nowadays, it's a trend, loud and bright I guess to impress you. I am glad to say Spatial Audio speakers are not that way, nowhere near being like that. Now if the recording sucks as I like to say then Spatial will let you hear that, and with current music being overly produced and processed with tracks being laid down outside of a studio and then played with by the producer for a sound he wants will that is the sound you get and should get. Play recordings that were not recorded this way, in a studio with all musicians present, and the Spatial take you there and do it at a cost that is CHEAP in today's ultra costing audio gear. Some 2-way speakers can cost $20,000 or more and not touch any Spatial speaker.

So yes, more open, dynamic, high efficient speakers with speed and ultra microdynamics will sound brighter and that is any speaker which has those design ideals to bring dynamics and efficiency and wide bandwidth, coming from a speaker that cannot do all that and then to a speaker like that can, and give it all to you when you play it back, as an audio store salesman once said to me, doesn't blame the messenger, that recording just sucks! The bane of us all we want all of our recordings to sound good but that never was possible be it vinyl, CD/digital, or lastly streaming will never change that. The better the speaker the more poor recording our laid bare. But the nice thing about Spatial's is they make even those recordings bearable and somewhat enjoyable in non-critical listening. 

Spatial are great speakers, solid design and priced where they can be affordable to many and not just a few. Right now I plan to have my M3's Sapphires for a long time to come and at my age, it may very well be my last speaker. I've heard great speakers in different designs and Spatial are as good as any and better than some up to $30,000 in price range after that you're into real crazy money and that is out of my league, nor of any interest to me, you can keep the bragging rights on your 220 lb speakers. Spatial gives me all I need and many recordings have never sounded more enjoyable and real in-room experience. Just heard Kind of Blue by Miles after a few years of not listening to it, and it sounded better than ever, Ricky Leee Jones, POP, POP had me stopped in my tracks when the 1st track started, Elvis is Back, he and the band right in the room (RCA Living Stereo Recording), The track Fever was jaw-droppingly good, Reconsider Baby was to die for, and so on. Spatial and my system can sound so real, a word my wife says from time to time, "they sound like they are right in the room playing" and she hates bright sound by the way, to the point of "please take that off its awful". Clayton built a good line of speakers and hopefully, more music lovers become more open-minded and give open baffle speakers a try. These are really good speakers period.


   
« Last Edit: 27 Oct 2021, 05:23 pm by Mr. Big »

minatophase3

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #1 on: 23 Oct 2021, 06:36 pm »
Excellent write up!  I heard the M3's at Claytons shop and thought they sounded fantastic and I cannot stand bright speakers.  I ended up ordering a pair of M4's, they should be shipping next week.  Can't wait to get them!

franSSS

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #2 on: 24 Oct 2021, 07:04 am »
@ MR Big

ive enjoyed your feedback and experience. Makes a lot o sense.
 :popcorn:

franSSS

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #3 on: 24 Oct 2021, 07:06 am »
Excellent write up!  I heard the M3's at Claytons shop and thought they sounded fantastic and I cannot stand bright speakers.  I ended up ordering a pair of M4's, they should be shipping next week.  Can't wait to get them!

You better document your experience for us here to read hey? :-)

morganc

Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #4 on: 25 Oct 2021, 01:52 am »
This is exactly why I also choose to add a few tubes in my chain, to add a touch of warmth.  I’ve seen recently people saying they are selling their speakers because there amp didn’t match.  IME you first find the speakers you love, then you add and subtract components one at a time until you dial in SYNERGy between room, speakers, system, cables, etc.  but of course to each is own, speakers are just harder to buy and sell! 

doggie

Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #5 on: 25 Oct 2021, 02:38 am »
This is exactly why I also choose to add a few tubes in my chain, to add a touch of warmth.  I’ve seen recently people saying they are selling their speakers because there amp didn’t match.  IME you first find the speakers you love, then you add and subtract components one at a time until you dial in SYNERGy between room, speakers, system, cables, etc.  but of course to each is own, speakers are just harder to buy and sell!

I found the speakers to be bright when I first got them. I attributed that to needing break-in and they have been slowly calming down at about 200 hours. My system is basically all tubes with a Lampizator Baltic 3 DAC and a Linear Tube Audio Integrated amp. Right now I am doing some tube rolling in my Baltic to dial in the sound to meet my own tastes.

minatophase3

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #6 on: 25 Oct 2021, 03:44 am »
You better document your experience for us here to read hey? :-)
Sure will.

Tangram

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #7 on: 25 Oct 2021, 01:01 pm »
Thanks for highlighting this important subject. This was exactly my experience with my M3Ss. I will add two points:

1) The OB design is attractive to people with small listening rooms because of the inherent bass cancellation features. But, “brightness” is more likely in a small vs. large room since the high frequencies ricochet around the room. Treatments are your friend.

2) The clean bass of the Spatials allows for louder listening levels in small rooms but that means that high frequency transients (think Dizzy Gillespie trumpet blast) can be REALLY loud. More high energy treble can make the music sound bright. Again, not the speaker’s fault. Until I pulled out my SPL meter I didn’t realize that with the Spatials I was listening, on average, 5db louder than with my other, less sensitive speakers.


Spatials are high performance speakers that will expose limitations of your room. I am less fussed about gear matching issues than some. Instead, your room needs to be up to the task. You may also find that once the honeymoon is over, that dialing back the volume a bit and getting used to it will be almost as rewarding as listening at higher volumes.


abomwell

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #8 on: 25 Oct 2021, 01:43 pm »
Well said, Tangram.  A lot of this has to do with how loudly one listens. Sigfried Linkwitz made a point of saying:
"For accuracy it is necessary to reproduce sound at near realistic SPL so that the ear generates the correct timbre due to its own distortion"

If you look at the equal loudness curves, also known as the Fletcher-Munson curves, it's obvious that frequencies around 3kHz that may sound balanced at 50 dB will sound very bright at say 90 dB. One size doesn't fit all when it comes to treble. A way around this, and it's what I found works for me, is to have some kind of EQ capabilities that can adjust those frequencies around 3-4 kHz for different volume levels. A preamp/processor with presets that can be programmed could be is a convenient solution.

abomwell

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #9 on: 25 Oct 2021, 03:17 pm »
Another consideration is the listening distance to the speakers. Air is a filter, especially for high frequencies. In my experience sitting back a couple feet farther makes a difference in terms of brightness.

Tyson

Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #10 on: 25 Oct 2021, 04:18 pm »
In smaller rooms I'd treat with more absorption and lean toward tubes in the signal path - the preamp for sure and maybe the DAC too. 

abomwell

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #11 on: 27 Oct 2021, 09:29 am »
With Roon you can experiment with DSP. Try a high shelf filter at 1500 Hz of -2 or -3 dB with a Q of 1 or 2 and see how you like it.

doggie

Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #12 on: 27 Oct 2021, 01:05 pm »
My X5's now have enough hours on them that they are well out on the flattened part of their burn in curve. I am now working to get their positioning to best sonic advantage and to adjust my preexisting room treatments to smooth out a bump in their upper end. I am just using old school measurement devices which are conveniently located on either side of my head and were preinstalled. These devices are well broken in and well adapted to the task. They are also uniquely adapted and tuned from endless years of listening and equipment purchases to work with my personal tastes.

I have been playing with my upstream equipment for a couple of weeks trying to use different tubes and cables to tame the sound to meet my own needs. This has helped some. Yesterday I moved two 24" sound panels to cover my TV in a different way. My TV is of necessity between the speakers. I put each panel at the ends of the cabinet, in front of each corner of the TV which is very close to the back of the speakers. I previously had just one panel placed in the center of the TV and a blanket over the TV itself. This had helped some but the new placement was much more effective. I now found music much more engaging and the brightness much diminished. Imaging was also better. I think that this may say that what comes out of the back of OB speakers needs to be considered as much as what comes out of the front.

My point is not to suggest that this particular tweak will work for others but to say that between a long break-in period and tricky room placement issues one cannot just unbox these speakers and expect to be plopped into the happy place. I was hoping that the AMT driver with it's "wave guide" baffle would make room placement less of a factor but, in my situation and for my own preferences, this has not turned out to be true. I think that, depending on the preexisting room environment, many folks can expect to put in significant work to bring out the best in the X series.

After two months I enjoyed them the most last night.



 
« Last Edit: 27 Oct 2021, 06:24 pm by doggie »

Tyson

Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #13 on: 27 Oct 2021, 06:18 pm »
Woot, awesome to have a happy ending.  You are right, OB speakers have less issues with the room than box speakers (especially in the bass), but that does not mean they have NO issues with the room (especially in the highs). 

ric

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #14 on: 28 Oct 2021, 01:40 pm »
After watching many of Dennis Foley's (Acoustic Fields) videos on YT, I decided to remove the 6.5' etagere that housed my equipment and tv. The equipment is now close to the floor and the tv is moved back as close to the wall as I can get it, and the soundstage has improved. Putting a heavy wool blanket over the reflective tv surface helps get rid of the tizzieness that it creates. The bottom line is that if you want to improve your soundstaging remove as much stuff from between the speakers (and front wall) as you can, which also allows you to work more easily with wall treatments. Even though it was a PITA to do, my ears are thanking me for doing it. Good luck!

Tyson

Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #15 on: 28 Oct 2021, 04:47 pm »
Agreed, having a rack that is low and wide is much better than a narrow/tall rack.  I also don't use a TV anymore, I moved to a projector with a motorized screen that fully retracts in to the ceiling when not in use. 

Tangram

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Re: Spatial Audio Open Box Speakers Bright?
« Reply #16 on: 29 Oct 2021, 01:37 pm »
After watching many of Dennis Foley's (Acoustic Fields) videos on YT, I decided to remove the 6.5' etagere that housed my equipment and tv. The equipment is now close to the floor and the tv is moved back as close to the wall as I can get it, and the soundstage has improved. Putting a heavy wool blanket over the reflective tv surface helps get rid of the tizzieness that it creates. The bottom line is that if you want to improve your soundstaging remove as much stuff from between the speakers (and front wall) as you can, which also allows you to work more easily with wall treatments. Even though it was a PITA to do, my ears are thanking me for doing it. Good luck!

Well done. We don’t all have the luxury of having our “stuff” somewhere other than between the speakers but this advice, while being important for any speakers, MUST be especially important for open baffles. For me, I am fortunate to have all equipment except for my amp in a room adjacent to the front wall, which has allowed me to make maximum use of 6 Vicoustics DC2 diffusers behind the Spatials. I have no TV to worry about.